Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayananda (Gurudev).
We are now exploring the writings of Gurudev on our focus subject of Meditation. The book is a thorough treatment of the subject and extends to over 170 pages of closely printed text. No attempt is intended, here, to present the text in its entirety. However, important paragraphs and quotes will be given, within a summary of each section. You are encouraged to use the links on sidebar to obtain a copy for yourselves from CM publications. Please remember that each of the posts under this title is part of a thought flow and it is important to go back and read the previous post in order to refresh and review the context.
Japa Yoga… Mantras
A mantra is a word-symbol/s expressing a particular view of God and/or the universe. When we first learn writing, our scrawls are undisciplined and wayward until such time as we have practiced sufficiently to control the instrument through which the writing is being expressed (the hand); likewise, we must learn to control the wayward and undisciplined mind until it works according to the bidding of the intellect and makes a much neater job of its proper task - inquiry into The Meaning of Life. As writing cannot happen without pencil or pen as the contact of focus upon the page, mantras are provided as a contact of focus for the mind. There is much made of the power and secrecy of mantras; at very advanced levels there are certainly some powerful 'forumlae'; but just as in physics or chemistry we can learn the basic formulas without fear of any mountains falling or lava boiling. All that can happen is only ever positive when we invoke the Higher power in this manner. For the Western mind, the closest thing is prayer - but the prayer, to become 'japa', must be repeated over and over with full heart and mind focus, intent upon the meaning of the words and with as little expectation as we can manage… allowing room for the unexpected.
Thus, the first clue is given; if you are of the Christian faith, you may wish to use the Lord's Prayer as your mantra. Say it through once for each bead of your mala. If you prefer something shorter, simply call upon the Lord of you're heart, Yeshu Christ, perhaps in "Beloved Jesus, raise me I pray, Amen." The amen is equivalent to OM and also to namaH (prostrations). If you are of no particular faith but are following meditation for peace and calmness in the turbulent world, something of the order of "May peace flow from me, may peace flow through me."
For those who are prepared to feel the energy provided by use of the Sanskrit tradition some of the following may be worth trying. In these early days of practice, by all means practice with one per week and take note of the effect upon you. When the one which fits best for you arrives - you will know it…
Vedantic Mantras (meditations upon the Formless);
Tat tvamasi - that thou art
Aham Brahmaasmi - I am Brahman
Ayam atmaa brahma - this Self is Brahman
Shivohum, shivohum - I am Shiva (auspiciousness)
Tadeva satyam tat Brahma - That alone is the Truth, That is Brahman
Aanandohum, aanandohum - I and Bliss, I am bliss
HamsaH soham, soham HamsaH - I am He, He am I
Puranic Mantras (meditation upon form);
Om namo Naaraayanaaya
Om Sri Raama, jaya Raama, jaya jaya Raama
Om namaH Shivaaya
Om Sri Sankukhyaaya namaH
Om Sri Raamachandraaya namaH
Om Sri Lakshmyai namaH
There must be some.
- While doing japa that, despite an obvious physical aspect (posture, breath, bead-rolling, diety…), the japa itself is of the mental plane and is to be raised still higher. That action itself is not the japa - japa is the intense focus and a sincere effort to integrate the antaH kaarana.
- This seeming simple yoga must not be over-practiced. Attempting to ski when you can barely walk is likely to land you with broken limbs (disillusionment)! Begin with just one mala per day and keep it at that till you feel there is definite ease of focus. Then go up to two - note that this requires further discipline. Continue to build slowly and steadily. It is not the number x108 like a competition - it is the quality of the practice which will make the progress.
- Beware falling into 'habit' - that is to say complacency in the process, allowing the thoughts to spill forth again as the fingers and the tongue do the work unmonitored! This is not a multi-tasking opportunity.
- Beware being lulled into stupor - again, repetition can be mesmeric and if one is not fully alert, there will be a tendency to let the hand and head loll into slumber.
- Keep one small part of the brain monitoring the body for posture and strain. Even as the japa continues to be focused, it is possible to readjust for correct and easy sitting. Do not break the chant.
- At first, setting up your environment and space, particularly if living with family or friends, can be a challenge. However, part of this process is to bring others round to understanding that, whilst they may not at all wish to undertake such practice, they ought to permit and respect your time for japa and devotional activity. This may, perhaps, require the usual human technique of negotiation whereby you allow them something, but that is fine and up to the individual.
- Japa is only as effective as the way in which it is practiced; small and regular will beat once a week marathons hands down!
- Release all idea of profit; that is to say, have no expectation of any kind of gain from japa practice. There are those who perform it for kudos among peers, or with hope of Lord giving something material in return and so forth. Have no expectation; expect the unexpected.
- Prostration (touching feet of teachers, elders, respected persons) must not be about what is expected - in Indian society there has been a tendency to misuse pranaams. Rather, this ought to be a spontaneous and genuine genuflection to the object of respect and devotion. It is not merely a physical dropping to the floor; it is a mental dropping of the ego. In order to prostrate we must wholly accept that we are the lesser to that which is receiving our pranaams.
- It is by this sublimation of the ego in order to allow The Other to flood us that we can raise our spiritual selves.